Monica

331/2-387. More correctly “Monnica,” a Berber name. Mother of Augustine of Hippo.* The child of Christian parents, strongly influenced by her nurse, she married Patricius of Tagaste (in Numidia), a pagan with civic (curial) responsibilities, limited means and a disorderly temper, who became a Christian shortly before he died in 372. Their children included Navigius (converted with Augustine); a daughter who as a widow headed a convent in Hippo for which Augustine later wrote the basis of the “Rule of St. Augustine”; Augustine (probably the youngest); and possibly another son and daughter. Augustine's Confessions depict Monica as his spiritual mother who pursued him with prayers, tears, and admonitions to Carthage and Milan, une femme formidable of strong but simple piety, whose designs for his career sometimes conflicted with her purposes for his religious advancement. In Augustine's Cassiciacum writings she possesses an uncomplicated oracular wisdom, and she died at Ostia after sharing with Augustine a vision of (Neoplatonic?) mystic ecstasy. Part of her original epitaph inscription was rediscovered there in 1945. Her cult was promoted by the translation of her relics to near Arras (1162) and to Rome (1430). She remains a hagiographers' favorite.